Opportunity Squeeze: 3 players set up to miss expectations in fantasy football

by Neil Dutton ·

Unless you play in auction leagues, you very rarely get the opportunities to pick all of your favorite players when drafting fantasy football teams. Therefore, drafts are all about finding the right players for your team at the right price. With that being established, here are three scary players who the advanced stats, metrics, and analytics suggest should be avoided at their current average draft positions

QB – Russell Wilson

Just in case there is any confusion, I’ll clear this up right away. Russell Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. This should go without saying. However, his presence on this list may understandably cause some confusion. The simple answer is opportunity and efficiency. The lack of the one and the likelihood of regression in the other makes his current fifth-round ADP hard to swallow.

In Brian Schottenheimer’s first season as Seahawks OC, the team finished dead last in pass plays, averaging 29.9 per game. Wilson was still able to finish at No.11 among quarterbacks in fantasy points per game, in large part due to an absurdly high touchdown rate of 8.2 percent. He was also ably supported by the players around him, with a +19.24 (No.1) Supporting Cast Efficiency. Such efficiency is hard to replicate from one year to the next. Schottenheimer also succeeded in stifling Wilson’s opportunities to contribute with his legs, too. Wilson had a career-low 67 carries and failed to score a rushing touchdown for the first season of his career.


The Seahawks made the playoffs after their season-long quest to establish the run, and despite paying Wilson more than any other quarterback in the NFL, they are unlikely to alter their formula too much in 2019. This is also despite drafting wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and Gary Jennings. The Seahawks face the third softest rush defense schedule in the NFL, according to Sharp Football, and they will likely lean heavily on Chris Carson and/or Rashaad Penny in the coming year.

Wilson will almost certainly see his touchdown rate drop in 2019. Of the five quarterbacks to have managed a touchdown rate in excess of eight-percent since the 2000 season for whom next season data is available, none of the five were able to maintain this rate. The average drop off was 3.2-percent.

Check out Russell Wilson on PlayerProfiler’s “World Famous” Draft Kit:

So, we have a quarterback who will not finish among the league leaders in pass attempts. A quarterback whose offensive coordinator will not allow him to carry the ball. And a quarterback who is destined to see serious regression in the efficiency department. That’s not a player we should be desperate to draft in formats where only one quarterback is needed, no matter how great the player is in real life. Drafting Wilson ahead of a player like Matt Ryan, who has topped 530 pass attempts in each of his last nine seasons, makes little sense. You’re banking on a lot of things to go very, very well if you pin your hopes to the Wilson wagon at his current ADP.

WR – Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper turned his season, and that of the Dallas Cowboys around after joining the team during the season. From week 9 onwards, he finished No. 8 among wide receivers with 53 receptions. He was also No.9 in yards with 724. Only seven wideouts scored more fantasy points than Cooper in this span. This strong finish has led to fantasy owners pulling the trigger on him as the 11th wide receiver. This is a huge mistake.

Amari Cooper was the most volatile wide receiver in fantasy football last season. When he went, he went big. But when he didn’t, he stunk out whatever joint he happened to be in at the time. His PPR finishes from Week Nine to 16 were WR13, WR22, WR57, WR1, WR26, WR1, WR46, and WR72. In three games against the Eagles and Washington, he amassed a massive 472 yards, with five touchdowns to boot. Indeed, his splits against these two opponents compared to the rest of his games make for stark reading.

Amari Cooper game splits against the Eagles and Washington, courtesy of RotoViz

Cooper’s present ADP is a spot where you would hope to be taking either a master of efficiency or a target magnet. We’ve seen that Cooper is not the former, and his numbers suggest that he has a long way to go to be considered the latter. In 2019, he had a 20.0-percent (No.34) target share and 13.6-percent (No. 35) Hog Rate. Although, to his credit, he had a 28.5-percent (No. 12) Dominator Rating. The Cowboys and all of their many fans and supporters can talk up the new offense that former quarterback Kellen Moore will be bringing in. But the fact of the matter is that the Cowboys are a run-first team, and they’ll be putting an awful lot on Ezekiel Elliott in 2019.


Cooper is being taken at his absolute ceiling at present, with Hasan Rahim noting in his write up in the draft kit that he’s “in line for a strong WR2 season.” Taking the 11th wide receiver off the board in the hopes that he’ll finish among the 13th – 24th player over the course of a season is not the move. No thank you.

TE – Eric Ebron

This is probably the easiest fade in the history of the NFL. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration…but only a slight one. After scoring 11 touchdowns in four seasons with the Detroit Lions, Eric Ebron went touchdown crazy in 2018. He snared 13 through the air and scored another on the ground. Unsurprisingly, he was No. 1 among all tight ends touchdowns scored and led his position in Hog Rate with 18.6 percent, and end zone target share with 35.6-percent. He certainly benefited from the absence of fellow tight end Jack Doyle. Ebron scored more fantasy points in games in which Doyle played, rather than those he missed.


But it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that Ebron benefitted from seriously freakish circumstances in 2018. In terms of Expected Touchdowns, he finished with 7.7 more than our numbers suggested he should have. A contributing factor to this was the fact that, in serious terms, he was hardly on the field. He was No. 39 among tight ends in terms of snap share, playing on just 56.3-percent of the Colts snaps.

Eric Ebron game splits in games with Jack Doyle in 2018, courtesy of RotoViz

The Colts will have Doyle back in 2019, plus an awful lot has written about Mo-Alie Cox, who had moments of his own last season. Devin Funchess will eat into Eric Ebron‘s end zone opportunities in 2019 as well. He will not see an uptick in his snaps and opportunities this year. As a result, he will be reliant on repeating his efficiency in the coming season. Yeah, it’s not likely. Especially with regards to his touchdown scoring. Since the 2010 season, there have been 19 instances of a tight end scoring 10 or more times in a single season. Only Rob Gronkowski (three times), Julius Thomas and Jimmy Graham managed to repeat the feat a year later.

A seventh-round pick on Ebron seems destined to be one of those selections that make a fantasy owner look foolish. Especially when they’re sending him to the waiver wire after the first month of the campaign. I would echo the words of Eric Balkman in our World Famous Draft Kit when he suggests that fantasy players “get someone else earlier or wait for a value at the tight end rather than target Eric Ebron”.